pre-situationist archive

situationist international archive

post-situationist archive

situationist chronology




news & updates

site search

notes & sources


text archives > situationist international texts >

Notes for a Joint Meeting of the French and Italian Sections

Guy Debord

17 March 1970

Translated by Reuben Keehan

To be transmitted to the other sections.


THE DIFFICULTIES IN the American and Italian sections over the last four months have been particularly regrettable in that they have held back the SI's extensive development, which more or less turned out to be our only real achievement in 1969. While it is necessary to resume and continue this extensive movement, our intensive practical and theoretical development must also be resumed as soon as possible.


IN THE PAST four months, for the first time, the SI's administrative and disciplinary side has clearly taken precedence over creativity and experimentation (which was already less than considerable in 1969). The immediate reversal of the relationship between these forces is needed if the SI is to have any justification for maintaining itself. Comrade Verlaan recently defined quite accurately what needs to be targeted, in remarking that "where the SI's revolutionary practice is lacking is that interpersonal relations have fatally become our only practice"; naturally they are deployed in the miserable traditional practice of present-day society, made even worse by a hollow pretension to a supposedly historical role. We all have to decide and judge our common activity, but it is not acceptable for such judgment to be our only activity.


ANY ATTEMPT TO sidestep these concrete questions (and first of all the trivial question of our funding) must be immediately denounced and eliminated.


WHILE WE HAVE OFTEN rejected those who find the SI deficient, this criteria is far too defensive. If there is to be any real equality in the SI, it is not enough for the situationists to avoid patent flaws. It's necessary for everyone to be "admirable" in some way to all the others.


ALL COMRADES MUST resume (or, in certain cases, commence) their rigorous theoretical work. One might say, for example, that we don't really need any "historical successes" after 1968 to be recorded in order to be certain of the truth of those of our theses that preceded it. But with regard to our subsequent activity, we really need to carefully analyze two related and reciprocally complimentary failures:

1) in the formation of a conscious revolutionary organization, the extreme stupidity of groups constituted in France after the admirable lesson of May;

2) in the process of a purely spontaneous struggle that brings the Italian proletariat to objectively put class power into question, the extreme ease with which an intelligent provocation (the December bombing) was able to succeed; the relatively minor enchantment of a practice that every modern state never hesitates to resort to in the face of any threat with enough vitality.

One could say that the Venice Conference [September 1969] understood and predicted quite accurately the current state of affairs in Europe (despite having hardly considered the means of affecting the return of such a "science" to our practical activity). But these debates did not examine the first point deeply enough; and they did not predict the second clearly enough.


IN SPITE OF their enormous historical and programmatic interest, the workers councils of the past were obviously insufficient as experiments, and real councillist organizations are still a long way from coming to fruition. Even among cretins, a vague councillist chic is developing. We have no real means of organizing this apart from disorganizing it as much as possible from now on. In the sense of the total content that the councils must attain, in the sense of what the SI can and must do in order for this power to exist in reality, I will summarize my argument in one line: it is not so much the situationists who are councillists, but the councillists who have to be situationists.


THE WORLD LACKS only the consciousness of a project in which it is already engaged. If the SI can still have anything to do with it, we have to encourage more Strasbourgs, more Sorbonnes, and other expressions of our theory (written or otherwise). This world still needs to be astonished.